In this city time unwinds in unnatural ways. It doesn’t
fly. It trips. It passes in coughing fits. It doesn’t have
enough soul to tick tock tick. It spits and spews under
the rusty fenders of all these cars going nowhere fast.
It’s bad for the body. Even here at the corner of
Sheridan and Pratt, the lake and its waves only a block
away, I cannot measure my dying. Instead, this taxi
pants at the traffic light. Instead, this bus, the Outer
Drive Express, lodges in my ventricle. This city breaks
On my good leg I wobble between the I-pods wearing
all those heads wearing the same 2.8 million faces.
Some idiot calls this a river of humanity but rivers
don’t move like this. It’s not natural. I stagger past the
café that wasn’t here yesterday, won’t be here
tomorrow. Past the liquor store that will be here
forever lubricating the gears and all their broken teeth.
I lurch past the rows of trees. Gnarled sticks attacked
by choking leaves. Near the Red Line tracks a squad
car screams up against the wall to people already up
against the wall. I give away a dollar to a man who
says god bless.
In Loyola Station I give two-twenty-five to the
turnstile. It says nothing. I crawl up the escalator at
90 miles per hour, grovel to the end of the platform at
95. I pause in a still shadow that drapes itself across
my eyes. I catch my breath, I stand up-right. Above
me the shape of a hawk drowns out the sound of the
next ten trains and with its beating wings reaches out
to stop the sky.
from Brute Neighbors, anthology, 2011.